The recent elections of the Mauritius Sanatana Dharma Temples Federation (MSTDF) have been closely followed by thousands of Mauritians – mostly, it would seem, in anticipation and expectation — of the failure of the Somduth Dulthumun-led group to make it back, after a previous failed bid, to the managing committee of the Federation. Mr Dulthumun has gained a notoriety since the last general elections with his active and public support to the MSM-ML alliance, and his intervention, in his capacity of President of the MSTD, on the publicly-funded MBC radio, in which he castigated the Labour Party leader just a few days before polling day, leaving a bitter taste amongst supporters of the LP. His recent nomination as chairman of the Mauritius Museum Council and as board member of the DBM has also been criticized and perhaps further affected his public standing.
We are not here to rejoice at the setback of Mr Dulthumun. Those who have won the elections have affirmed their intention to keep away from party politics, and concentrate instead on the welfare of Sanatanists through, among others, a reorganization of temples-related activities. Sanatanists and the wider community, we are sure, will look forward to their remaining true to their word. What we find unfortunate is that those who have been, in recent decades, at the command of the MSDTF and other such organisations – leaders who have won and subsequently failed to get re-elected – did not deem it essential to put their undoubted drive and energy to better use and play a more focused role for the welfare of their fold and by extension to the country as a whole. They have unfortunately allowed themselves to become the tools of politicians, especially those in power whatever the political dispensation whose ‘vision’ – if we may say so – is constricted by their bid for power. We would also like to think that the assets and funds of these organizations are not another reason for the endless squabbles that affect their good functioning for the purpose that they have been set up for.
Is the failure of the Dulthumun-led group a sign of things to come on the political front ? Namely, is it a reflection on the unpopularity of the present government, which is known to be the patron of that group, and a foreboding of the outcome of a future general election? We are not there yet, and the larger issue that should be of interest to us is elsewhere.
We had mentioned in an earlier editorial in the wake of the preceding elections at the Arya Ravived Pracharini Sabha and the Mauritius Sanatana Dharma Temples Federation, that the founders/initiators of some of these socio-cultural organisation were very clear: the thrust of these organizations was the awakening of the masses, their education and their social emancipation. It was such inputs which allowed them to make enlightened choices when it came to their advancement in Mauritian society through different platforms, one of which would be political.
This has served the masses well for a long number of years, with the larger interest overriding narrow personal or sectional ones. If over the years there has been a devaluation of the leadership for a number of reasons, one of which having to do with their kowtowing to politicians of all ilk (usually for personal advantages) such that it is felt that they need these same politicians to get elected or re-elected, that in no way dilutes the role of the organizations which have contributed significantly to the advancement of the community, each contributing in its own way.
Working with the government of the day should not pose a problem in itself, but it has to be for the promotion of the larger interest of the masses – not the short term, narrow interest of political patrons, if any. National issues like inequality, the problems facing the small planters’ community in the sugar sector, Nine Year Schooling, growing alcoholism and the ravages of synthetic drugs all over the island, conversion, family breakdown, etc., are some of the themes that should also interest them. Their importance must be divested from the politics that accompanies the renewal of their mandate, and their leaders have a bounded duty to fulfil the primary objects of their organisations whatever their political colour.
The earlier this is understood the better it will be for the organizations and the community they serve, and in the larger interest of the country as well.
* Published in print edition on 4 August 2020